The Firseid Sandbox
Irieatis has a journal on her person that describes three locations besides Arcus’s castle:
9 August, 2925: Ref in A’s library The Tomb of the Enlightened in Ketan, the Emperor’s Boneyard in Kxal, and the Dead Pines Barrows. Sketchy material for Arasha due to the burning of the library of Arasha in 1256, and Haartlund has burned its dead for thousands of years and does not keep burial sights. All except the Barrows have nearly identical legends, that they are the resting places of foundational heroes of a society who, the story goes, may be called upon to return to life to lead their nations from trouble. Sounds like our A; who knew we were still so close to the age of myths.
[Several entries detail her journey north.]
15 August, 2925: Turned away at the gates of Kxal. Damned AIV and his politics. Considered casting disguise, but the penalties are harsh up here if you’re caught using magic for deception. Hit up an old friend and did it the old fashioned way as a pilgrim from Afpikh. Death-white skin always gives the guards a good scare! The tomb of the first emperor is still sealed, but the aura has changed in some way I can’t put my finger on. It smells more like death than I remember. Saw an old pilgrim outside the temple, he says he will meditate until the Emperor speaks to him. I’ve never heard of such a thing — no one here worships the Emperors.
[several entries detailing her trip south to Freiburg, and some incomprehensible notes and doodles, though something tells you that they are from her research. There is a water stain on one of the pages and she’s drawn a picture of a beer stein. There are gaps in the entries, which pick up again in September.]
Sept 10, 2925: The hospitality of the monks here in Katan knows no bounds, though Yanchka does not share my concern over the degradation I observed at A’s castle. Perhaps he’s right. Tolliver was not worried either, and his father is as batty as ever. But as Yanchka was soon to head back to his monastery, he promised to look in on the old gang on the way. His counterpart here, Kali, is less understanding and insists that the Way has never been magical, and that Haroui-Ketan ascended to a higher plane by becoming a being of pure thought. I expect to disagree with religious figures of all types, but Kali really burns my biscuits.
[Entries follow about a journey back to Frieburg. Several scribbled story notes.]
Sept 18, 2025: Met with Clarise and Pauly. Clarise hasn’t observed anything out of the ordinary and dismisses any claim that there is a “crisis” in Toll-am-Aps as “a little sensational.” My dear Pauly backs me up, though, how I’ve missed him! Clarise agreed to “let” us search for further evidence of a magical breakdown. Let us! She’s every bit as bad as AIV or that prick of a mayor, appoint yourself in charge of a few people and you think everything they do is at your behest. How I wish I’d lived in A’s time, when adventurers were adventurers and kings and queens were our peers! [She goes on quite a bit longer.]
Sept 27, 2025: More time among the books. Not even a hint of A’s equivalent among the Arashans. I feel I’m missing something. Re-read the saga of Haartlund, the Jacie translation. Wretched poetry, but ran across a reference to the god of battle recalling his fallen followers from the underworld. Considering the Haartlunders don’t believe in the use of resurrection on the dead in battle, I found this a little peculiar, until I realized that it was a retelling of one of the stories from the hill people of Latani. I haven’t delved very deeply into the barrows … but their culture is more ancient than any of ours, and the rebirth cycle is a central idea in all their surviving “histories.” Perhaps the cave paintings will hold some clues.
[Details of a week-long trek south, with a note on the 5th about Quijo acquiring a ring of sustenance in her absence. She trades him a mundane necklace for it, convincing him that the necklace is a necklace of fireballs. She seems quite proud of this piece of manipulation, as the necklace wasn’t even real gold and had no detachable balls, so it in no way resembles a real necklace of fireballs. She spends a few weeks resting at home and gathering supplies before heading off into the wilderness.]
October 27, 2025: Killed an orc sniffing around near the barrows today after he attacked me without provocation. Haven’t run into problems with them around here in years, can’t even remember the last time there was a raiding party, and we’re even on decent terms with G-g-g-grk’s tribe. But he was a scout for sure. Painted white eye on his forehead, probably not very good for sneaking, and he wouldn’t surrender, definitely didn’t understand common. I really must look into this more when I finish in the barrows.
[Entry about setting up camp, and several detailed pictures of the cave paintings with notes about various fertility rituals, hunting pictures, and speculation about society. Lamentation that there’s no written or oral record of the hill people. Some interesting thoughts about the hill peoples’ concept of the afterlife as a rejoining.]
November 3, 2025: Found a fissure deep in the southern branch. Very peculiar! It was not there yesterday. And the smell — not musty, took me an age to identify it, but on goes the detect magic, and there’s the foul green aura — and perhaps even odor? — of necromancy. Girding myself and going in! Even Pokey seems excited.
November 6, 2025: It’s been too dark to write, I finally managed to reach my pack and light a lantern. I don’t have much time. Should anyone of conscience find this journal, please bring it to Mr. Baker in Freiburg. A cave-in three days ago cut me off from my the surface — and my supplies. My attempt to follow the aura of necromancy that led me down here was a dead end. There was no evidence of necromancy. I’ve never heard of a false reading on detect magic before, and now that the aura is completely, and I’m not sure I can even smell the scent of death anymore. I can’t believe I imagined it. But the earth and salt mephits down here were certainly not my imagination! There must have been a dozen of them that crept up on me while I was sleeping. I fled into a side chamber and they brought the ceiling down and my leg was broken. They must have lost interest or decided to have fun elsewhere, because I managed to scrabble my way out, but I’m exhausted, and my leg didn’t heal properly from magic. I am now not only convinced that there is something twisting my magic but that I am not imagining the scent of death down here. There are strange voices in the dark, speaking a language I can’t put my finger on. Pokey has not been good company, she sounds drunk.
[There are a couple pages torn out.]
[The following page has several versions of the same message, with words, numbers, and sentences crossed out. The final version of the message is: “Dearest Pauly: Help. In the barrows, southern branch. Cave-in. Need rescue love. Bring strong men fast. Do not cast. Something wrong. Walls closing in.” Next to it is written “25!”]
November 9?: [This entry is heavily garbled and almost illegible. The handwriting is also very shaky.] I haven’t slept a night through in three days. The voices are constant. I’m almost out of light and can barely see what I’m writing, because I must conserve fuel. I burned pages from my journal. It was mindless speculation anyway. I can’t seem to shake this fever. I hear a voice chanting in a nearby chamber. I can’t walk. I’m out of sending scrolls, and Pauly didn’t answer my message. I hope he’s okay. That walls are closing in.
[There there are four pages left at the end. They are all written in a large hand, by someone who most likely could not see what they were writing.]
If anyone finds this, get it to Clarise Baker in Freiburg. Tolliver at the Lord Mayor’s manor-house will know where to find her.
[There is one final note below that on the last page. It says “bones” and “answer” and then a illegible scribble that goes off the end of the page.]
[The remaining pages are torn out of the book.]